After 30 years in the insurance industry, Samuel Tan made a bold career switch to join the Community Care sector. The new CEO of All Saints Home (ASH) wants to contribute meaningfully to the elderly. mosAIC chats with him on what inspires him and how his background prepared him for the sector.
How did you get involved in Community Care?
I joined St Luke’s Hospital (SLH) as an alternate Board member in 2013. At the same time, I was also involved in the Presbyterian Community Services (PCS). These two volunteering experiences were my first exposure to the sector.
What made you decide to make a major career switch?
I wanted to learn something new and contribute meaningfully, especially in the area of eldercare. Eldercare is a relevant topic for many families, including mine. I witnessed the physical and emotional challenges that my mother-in-law went through to look after my late father-in-law, who had dementia, for 13 years.
My parents and mother-in-law are in their 80s and are relatively healthy and active. However, we are all part of an ageing population, and organisations like ASH provide eldercare services to meet the needs of the silver generation. I am heartened and thankful for the government’s support for the sector, but as the nation’s needs increase, we have to continue to innovate to meet these needs. There are perennial challenges facing the sector, but at ASH, we do our best to overcome them.
I am grateful for the strong support from my family for my career change. My wife, who is a medical doctor in both geriatric and palliative areas in St Luke’s Hospital, has been sharing invaluable insights into how the Community Care sector operates. In fact, she was the one who encouraged me to take up the challenge of leading a nursing home.
How has your previous work experience prepared you for your current role?
Before joining ASH, I was from a very different industry – insurance. I was with German insurer, Allianz, for 23 years and held various regional leadership roles, such as underwriting, claims and risk consulting. My last held position was in regional risk consulting where I led a team of risk engineers that provided risk assessment and inspection support for underwriters to enhance risk quality and achieve underwriting profitability.
My previous professional and volunteering experiences have helped me develop relevant skill sets, including pastoral care, strategic management, collaborative leadership, performance management, compliance/risk management, stakeholder management, conflict management and innovation.
Working in a multi-national environment has also given me a keener sense of cultural sensitivity and an appreciation for diversity. I believe these skills and experiences will help me as I embark on a new chapter with ASH.
We currently have over 560 staff spread over four centres and four senior care centres at six locations, hailing from different countries and backgrounds. They hold a wealth of knowledge and experience and I look forward to a fruitful exchange of knowledge with everyone.
What lies ahead for you at ASH?
Being new to the Community Care sector, my main focus now is to understand the sector, as well as the organisation and its people. I hope to continue the good work that the folks at ASH have put in place, and to exemplify the core values of ASH: Compassion, Assurance, Respect and Excellence.
I am also keen in initiatives that widen our pool of local talents, volunteers and donors. This is one of the healthcare sector’s biggest challenges. I also feel strongly about making the sector more appealing so that we can attract and retain talent. Such challenges will take time to overcome, and I hope to be able to play my part in addressing some of these issues.
Tell us something about yourself that not many people know about.
I was a pioneer of xinyao (a genre of Chinese songs composed by young Singaporeans) in the 1980s! I arranged the recorded music for more than 160 xinyao songs, including the works of Liang Wern
Fook and Eric Moo. I also received the Meritorious Award by COMPASS (Composers and Authors Society of Singapore) in 2018 for my contribution to local music.
It was also this passion in music which led me to ASH by chance. I was the Musical Director for ASH’s 30th Anniversary Celebrations Dinner in 2016. I planned the musical programme, performed on the piano and accompanied my friend and famed regional musician, Eric Moo, at the event. It never occurred to me that I would join ASH as its CEO three years later! You could say this opportunity is serendipitous, and I am excited about where the journey will lead me.
Together with the staff, community partners, donors, volunteers, next-of-kin and other supporters, we will do our best to serve our residents and clients and in fulfilling the vision of ASH.